New parliamentary year: the paradox of presidential address

Alvi has refused to deliver NA based on text provided by govt


Saqib Virk August 13, 2022
A view of National Assembly. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Another bizarre spectacle is set to play out within the hallowed halls of parliament on August 13 as the federal government steps into its fifth parliamentary year with a president reluctant to give his blessings to any speech handed over by the ruling party.

Well-placed sources have hinted that a special joint sitting of the two houses of parliament before the commencement of the new parliamentary year is likely to mushroom into another constitutional controversy as President Arif Alvi has refused to deliver the address based on the text provided by the government.

As per the tradition, the text contains progress reports submitted by ministries and departments, highlighting the performance of the government. The president is not supposed to ignore the government’s text.

The parliamentary year of the National Assembly will be completed on August 13 after completing the mandatory 130 working days.

Read more: Ready to mediate between Shehbaz, Imran in ‘national interest’: Alvi

Article 226, Clause 3 reads: “[(3) At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the National Assembly and at the commencement of the first session of each year the president shall address both houses assembled together and inform the Majlis-e-Shura (Parliament) of the causes of its summons.]

Meanwhile, under the constitutional obligation, the annual ritual is supposed to be preceded by a joint sitting of the two houses, which is technically still in session and will meet again on August 22. The address cannot take place before the turn of the year.

Article 56 (3) of the Constitution reads: “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the National Assembly and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the President shall address both Houses assembled together and inform the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) of the causes of its summons.”

Sources said that President Alvi, who has on many occasions stonewalled the new dispensation's decisions, will possibly either decide to deliver an impromptu speech or draft his own.

Similarly, there is a strong possibility of uproar in the joint session if the government ignores the speech independently compiled by the president. Nonetheless, the president has signalled his intent to go with his own despite the potential backlash, sources added.

Interestingly, sources have pointed out that conversely, the session could also breeze through the NA as one of the largest parties, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), will not be in attendance. Usually, the address is marked by commotion and strong protests.

It may be recalled that the ruling rainbow coalition had ousted PTI Chairman Imran Khan through a parliamentary revolt earlier this year in April.

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